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What Do You Believe Even If You Can't Prove It? 2353

An anonymous reader writes "That's what online magazine The Edge - the World Question Center asked over 120 scientists, futurists, and other interesting minds. Their answers are sometimes short and to the point (Bruce Sterling: 'We're in for climatic mayhem'), often long and involved; they cover everything from the existence of God to the nature of black holes. What do you believe, even though you can't prove it?"
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What Do You Believe Even If You Can't Prove It?

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  • First Post. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:00PM (#11265111) Homepage Journal
    I believe in a kind and loving God. Keeping that belief is hard usualy because of the acts of man.
    Let the flames begin.
  • Redundancy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yahyamf ( 751776 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:01PM (#11265130)
    "What Do You Believe Even If You Can't Prove It?"

    The question should be simply "What do you believe?" Because if something can be proven, the issue of belief does not arise. And only idiots believe what what is proven as false.

  • by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:01PM (#11265134) Journal
    I believe that if you are nice to others, even in small ways, that the world gets better.

    I believe that if you are mean to others, even in small ways, that the world gets worse.

    I believe that I want the world to be a better place, and I live each day according to that.

  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nadadogg ( 652178 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:05PM (#11265182)
    Same here, I'm a firm believer that God and science can coexist, seeing as we don't know exactly how God works, and I'm not closed-minded on either end of the argument.
    Yes, slashdot, it's possible to believe in God and science without being a damned fundie that makes my faith look bad.
  • I BELIEVE! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by go$$amer ( 218906 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:07PM (#11265212)
    That the world's religions will have their armageddon - and it will be entirely of their own making and have nothing to do with the divine.
  • Re:First Post. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:08PM (#11265228)
    Let the flames begin.

    You know what? Good for you!

    I'm an atheist myself, but I'm not going to try and convert you. Nor do I want you to convert me. I don't believe in UFO's, ghosts, fortune telling nor anything else supernatural.

    BUT! I believe that if people were a little bit more tolerant, the world would be a much better place.
  • Re:Redundancy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:09PM (#11265238)
    Even in Math, proof involves an agreed upon set of axioms, and an agreed upon set of operations to derive theorems. Without these common axioms, proofs are not proofs. In the real world, 'proof' is even harder to agree with consensus wise. Even sight and sound can be fooled by a clever magician, and hoaxes abound. I believe that science, done in a controlled and disinterested manner, will validate useful models of the universe, and reject others, but proof? What is proof? And the very idea of science, that is that controlled conditions yield predictable results is a base axiom, and if you disagree with that, what common discourse is there?
  • Re:I believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:11PM (#11265275) Homepage Journal
    Please note: I.D. is billed as an "alternative" to evolution in which god exists.

    The solidified and well-accepted portions of evolutionary models make no requirement, however, that you cease to believe in any gods.

    Intelligent Design, therefore, while perhaps a good example of things to believe in without proof, has nothing to do with science and god. It has much more, however, to do with politically empowered people who don't understand science, and the people they seem to think are somehow disproving god.

    Your ending statment, therefore, appears to have little to do with the rest of your post when it is put into the context of the post you replied to.
  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <<haplo> <at> <>> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:11PM (#11265277) Homepage
    I refuse to believe that our world contains the only life in the entire Universe. There have to be other planets with life on them out there some place.

    As for the question of them visiting us, I am not so sure on that one.
  • by Hakubi_Washu ( 594267 ) <robert,kosten&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:14PM (#11265322)
    I don't need "hope", a "meaning of life", anything "greater", "something is too perfect about this world to be random", or whatever you claim to need, so why waste time _believing_ in those? All I want is "reason"; in combination with that I cannot but _believe_ in scientific methodology (theories need to be falsifiable, etc.) and the plain possibility and existance of proofs. Those concepts cannot be proven themselves, because the attempt to proof them is crediting them with validity in the first place. That would be a self-fulfilling prophecy... (This is the reason I don't argue with religious people, they just base their thoughts upon a different set of fundamentals; any argumentation already _is_ the choice for reason and science, so why bother?)
  • by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:14PM (#11265323) Homepage Journal
    Some group of individuals appears to be on a rampage in this story, moderating down all mentions of religion. No idea why. If they're modding because they're anti-religious, they're idiots, because the whole point of the story is believing in things you CAN'T PROVE.

    If they're modding them down because they are religious, however, then they clearly don't understand the concept of "faith" and how to have it you must not be able to PROVE your beleif in the common sense.

    Or, perhaps, a couple of 13 year olds got a snow day... it appears there are a lot of children on Slashdot these days...
  • Re:I believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doublem ( 118724 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:14PM (#11265336) Homepage Journal
    Do intelligent design believers argue that God designed humans, animals etc directly or is it that God designed the physical laws of the universe such that everything could naturally evolve on its own?


    Both are valid schools of thought under the heading of "intelligent design"
  • Nothing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cheeseSource ( 605209 ) < minus math_god> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:14PM (#11265337) Journal
    If you can't prove it within a reasonable margin of error then there's no point in believing. It's like "Faith". "Faith" is one of the most meaningless words out there. It means almost exactly "belief with out reason" (or proof). When people say: "Well, I have faith." It reminds me of snotty kids who whine: "Because I feel like it."
  • by TrevorB ( 57780 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:15PM (#11265343) Homepage
    I believe in a kind and loving God. Keeping that belief is hard usualy because of the acts of man.

    Or, occasionally, because of acts of nature.

    "It's all part of God's plan" my ass. This is all looking pretty random to me.

    (dons flame retardant suit)
  • Re:I believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sergeant Beavis ( 558225 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:15PM (#11265349) Homepage
    Yes, slashdot, it's possible to believe in God and science without being a damned fundie that makes my faith look bad.

    You bet! Someday people will realize that the Bible is a book of THEOLOGY and not a book of SCIENCE.

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:15PM (#11265352)
    There aren't many people who say that the climate is not changing.

    The difference is whether they say that man-made pollution is the primary cause or whether this is part of a natural cycle.

    If it is part of a natural cycle, then there is no "proof" that changing our pollution will do anything.
  • Karma (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:16PM (#11265364) Homepage Journal
    Chaos theory may one day reveal that the concept of karma is based on scientifically valid underpinnings. Until then, I just believe it because I've experienced it. Cause and effect, baby.

  • Re:Redundancy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JaxWeb ( 715417 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:17PM (#11265378) Homepage Journal
    I believe the axioms of Set Theory are consistant, however Godel [] proved it impossible to prove.

    The most important problem in Mathematics is unproveable. This is worrying. You just gotta believe it is true.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:18PM (#11265408)
    I am a qualified physicist and I lean towards the more mathemetical areas - esp. pure maths.

    I have met very few scientists whose opinions I genenrally value who claim to be athiests. In fact the number of athiests I studied with roughly equalled the christians with the majority being generally agnostic.

    You see scientists don't tend to claim something unless they have experiments to back up what they say or at least logic and mathematics to predict behaviour. If they did they wouldn't be very gould scientists since their assertions could not be tested nor their work peer reviewed.

    That's why no scientists have published papers attempting to prove the existance of god nor any to prove his absence.
  • by autechre ( 121980 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:19PM (#11265420) Homepage
    I don't really see how that stacks up. First of all, I'm not looking for God to explain anything, and while some people might be, I think that many see it in quite the opposite way. There are things that we don't understand yet, and also things that are impossible for us to understand as we are now. And that's OK.

    If you're talking about philosophy, guides to life, etc., this can certainly be separated from theology. Look no further than Jefferson's Bible.

    I also don't understand how you take a complex system as an argument against intelligent design; I would tend to see it the other way. Or, as someone else said it: "It's unbelievable that something so mind-bogglingly useful evolved all by itself." In other words, it would take something incredible to set such systems in motion.

    Do I believe with absolute certainty in a quantifiable vision of the Almighty? No, and I think that's how it was meant to be. I don't think that any one religion is supposed to get it completely right, and I think we're supposed to be responsible for living our own lives (but I don't fully agree with the Deists either). Based on the things I've encountered in my life, adamant total disbelief seems...unbelievable.

  • Re:homosexuality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vorpal22 ( 114901 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:19PM (#11265423) Homepage Journal
    Of course, if it were genetics, according to Darwin, it would be a trait that should have been wiped out long ago since homosexuals cant reproduce.

    Nonsense. Homosexuals, physically, are fully capable of reproducing - it's just that the sexual acts which are appealing to them don't result in reproduction. Regardless, I know no lack of people with gay biological parents who reproduced because they felt social pressure to enter into heterosexual relationships.

    Additionally, recessive genes can carry for many generations, and if homosexuality is genetic, it's obviously controlled by a sequence of genes that are recessive.

    Personally, I'm gay and I don't think homosexuality is genetic. I suspect that there are biological causes (e.g. hormone levels in the mother, etc.), but I'm capable of admitting that we don't know at this stage and it is possible that homosexuality is a choice. This is irrelevant to me, though, because even if it *is* a choice, it's my choice to make, and it's no one's business what the outcome of that decision is.
  • by Kainaw ( 676073 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:20PM (#11265447) Homepage Journal
    You are mixing two uses of the catch-phrase "Global Warming".
    One use of the phrase is to claim that the world is getting warmer. Well, it is. There is plenty of proof.
    However, there is another more liberal use of the phrase to claim that humans are at fault for the world getting warmer. That is lacking in proof. Sure, fossil fuels warm the earth, but by how much? How is that compared to cow emissions? How much is just the normal cycle of the Earth from hot to cold to hot again?
    In the face of this lack of proof, some claim that if humans aren't part of the solution, they are part of the problem. This is a classic non-sequitur argument for fools that can easily be twisted into: if you aren't part of the problem, you are part of the solution.
    I know you said to just look at the pretty charts in the National Geographic article, but I accidentally read it too.
  • by Momoru ( 837801 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:20PM (#11265452) Homepage Journal
    I absolutely agree that global warming exists...what i don't think we can prove yet is that the phenomenon is entirely (or even mostly) man-made. We are exiting an ice age, and have been for the past 10,000 years. Of course its getting warmer. But we only have real climate data from the last 100 years, so to look at a 100 year time span out of the hundred million earth has been around and be like "gee its getting warmer, so it must be global warming" is a little rediculous. Last year when Europe had its terrible heat wave, global warming was blamed. This year when Europe was freezing and there was snow in Germany in the Summer and snow in Dubai just the other month, you don't hear anything about global warming. Global warming in my opinion is a natural occurance and is a cycle that will occur until we enter the next ice age. Frankly global COOLING should be considerably more scary to everyone then warming. With global warming a few eskimos lose their arctic animals they hunt and miami ends up under water, boohoo. But we can grow crops consideribly farther north with global warming. If global cooling (the next ice age) were to occur we would have glaciers covering europe and reaching into the deep south of america. Thats alot more scary in my opinion.
  • Re:First Post. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hyecee ( 809818 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:22PM (#11265485) Journal

    I've haven't seen so many AC replies to a single posting before. Methinks people are scared to be associated with such a "controversial" topic.

    It's a shame the topic can't be approached more open-mindedly, as the parent was neither malicious or forceful. Whether you believe in a God or not, is the idea so black and white that people can't even maintain a healthy, respectful dialogue about it?

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:22PM (#11265495) Homepage Journal
    If that were so, what would be the incentive to create, to build, to grow as a species? Most technology, even in cave man days, originated out of human weakness---the inability to do something without tools. It is our weakness that has forced us to be intelligent---to outwit our prey when we cannot outrun it---and is the only real thing that distinguishes us from other animals---that instead of adapting ourselves to our environment, we adapt our environment to ourselves.

    So, no, there's no reason for God to create humans as "bas ass" as possible. If He had, we would not be human. We would be more like... dinosaurs. Look how well they turned out. Oh, that's right. They didn't. :-)

  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:25PM (#11265523) Journal
    The theory of intelligent design is considered, by its proponents, to be proof that God exists. Believing in God & science usually means that you don't buy ID.
  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sqlgeek ( 168433 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:26PM (#11265542)
    How much lab equiptment do you need in order to say "I don't understand, therefor God?" Mmmm, lets all call that science, shall we? I'm stealing Bradford DeLong's words, but I'm counting on folk around here not reading economists too much.

  • Re:I believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rheingold ( 2741 ) <wcooley@nak[ ] ['eda' in gap]> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:27PM (#11265560) Homepage
    How would you know what a universe that wasn't designed looked like? Have you ever experienced a universe that was designed? "Design" is one of those things that we as humans recognize in relation to things not designed; we compare, say, a chair with a fallen tree. Both can be appropriated for the task of sitting, but one is designed and other other not (presuming, of course, we're talking about a knocked over). How would you recognize if the universe werre not designed?

    BTW, if you're really interested in the question and not merely espousing it as a foundation for other less tenable beliefs, I recommend that you read Bertrand Russell's "Why I Am Not a Christian (And Other Essays)" and George Smith's ""Atheism: The Case Against God."
  • by rizole ( 666389 ) < minus city> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:27PM (#11265567)
    I agree, but want to add something my dad often said to me:

    You can't reason with an asshole

  • Re:Logic works? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:28PM (#11265576) Homepage Journal
    In fact, the opposite has been proven. Gödel's incompleteness theorem states that a powerful enough system cannot prove its own consistency. This implies that you can make any number of proofs that are valid within your system, but you can never know if the system itself is valid. Or, as I like to say, the only thing you know for sure is that you never know anything for sure.

    Of course, the incompleteness theorem itself is derived by a system of which the validity is unknown...
  • call Ohio (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oliphaunt ( 124016 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:28PM (#11265590) Homepage
    I believe that Blackwell stole the election for Bush, the same way it was proved that Harris and Scalia stole the election for Bush 4 years ago. How long will it take before we see the proof this time?

    Oh, and I also believe that Dick Cheney is a cyborg.
  • Re:Someday (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:30PM (#11265630) Journal
    > On to my beleif without proof: I beleive that the big bang never happened... that time and space have
    > always been and will always be continuous. It hit me that the universe can't expand inside of
    > nothing... if nothing existed when the universe was infinitesmally small, not even nothingness
    > itself, how can the universe expand into that? it doesn't exist.

    What a pity that you don't actually seem to know what Big Bang cosmology states, and that, through ignorance, you simply can toss away the large amount of evidence for it (red-shift of distant galaxies, nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background radiation).

    Most of my beleif that the universe didn't have a big bang comes from a deep seated feeling that I
    > have that cannot be explained. I imagine most of the people they asked had the same reasoning for
    > their beleifs.

    The Big Bang theory isn't about beliefs as you seem to use the word. It's about the best explanation that fits the evidence.

    > I also feel pretty good each time scientists revise the 'age of the universe' each time
    > they're able to look deeper into space.

    That's a pretty big distortion. It's stayed relatively fixed at about 13.5 billion years for quite some time now. Perhaps you could provide some citations here. I suspect that you get virtually all of your information on the Big Bang from science journalists, who, in general, are utter incompetents.

    Here's a tip. Learn what Big Bang cosmology is. Learn what physicists mean when they talk about the Universe. In other words, read some books by scientists, and not crap from science journalists or daft strawmen by pseudo-scientific kooks who are themselves largely ignorant of the theories in question.
  • I believe that.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jzarling ( 600712 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:30PM (#11265637)
    Darwin was/is right
    There is intelligent life out there, and the will contact us before we find them
    When found they will considered infidels by some, heritics by others
    Organized religion has held back scientific progress and should be kept out of the arena of public education.
    Faith is more important than Religion
    The original version of Blade Runner is superior to the Directors Cut and shold be released on DVD
    Duke Nukem Forever is NEVER going to be released
    Blatz is the finest beer ever produced
    and finally,
    Whether or we ever find life there, Jupiter should always be considered an enemy planet!
  • Re:Check the News- (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xtermin8 ( 719661 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:32PM (#11265668)
    I find belief in a kind and loving God difficult because of events like the tsumani and the resulting suffering around some of the poorest areas in Asia and Africa. The acts of man, especially if one also believes in free will, doesn't afffect faith one way or another. Perhaps God is indifferent? That seems more of a challenge to me than disbeleiving God altogether.
  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:32PM (#11265673) Journal
    Intelligent Design is merely Creationism dressed up in new clothes in an attempt to subvert US Constitutional prohibitions against teachign religion in public schools. It isn't science.
  • by c_king ( 540716 ) <chyld@atomicedi[ ]om ['t.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:33PM (#11265691)
    I believe you are a moron.
  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FuturePastNow ( 836765 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:33PM (#11265694)
    That's a perfectly valid belief, especially in the context of things you'll never be able to prove. That said... I find it very difficult to take people who believe in ID seriously. They're usually just fundamentalists trying to circumvent the separation of church and state, one step at a time.
  • Re:WMD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:35PM (#11265730)
    WHen the gassing occured the UN wanted to sanction Iraq. The US blocked it. Why? Because we gave saddam the gas, we gave him intelligence, we gave him technology and we basically told him to gas people.

    Think about that.
  • Re:Christ (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:38PM (#11265795)
    The concept of "going to hell" is not biblically accurate... it is catholic mumbo-jumbo... err, dogma, I mean.

    I believe, according to revelations, those who do not merit admittance to heaven will be burnt to a cinder and will then be dead. No eternal torture, no sadistic godhead. Mortality is the norm, and immortality in heaven is a gift selectively bestowed.

    Better, no?

    If you want to know about Christianity, read the bible instead of listening to Christians (most of whom don't understand the bible, and hence their own religion, properly either).
  • by Wizard of OS ( 111213 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:41PM (#11265848)
    What has striken me most the last few years, is the arrogance of some (mostly the 'popular') science people on TV or in the news, is that they make you believe that Science will Have All The Answers. Eventually we will comprehend everything, and with that, we will know the nature of God (loosely quoting Stephen Hawking).

    What most people (in my opinion) fail to realise, is that we have tiny brains. We have a limited number of grey cells in that tiny skull up there, and we are therefore limited in what we can comprehend. Sure we have come to understand the world around us in a incredible detailed way; but we have no guarantees at all that we will be able to continue this trend.

    You often hear people come with arguments like 'but God can't exist' or 'we don't need God to explain the universe'. Sure, if you think that man can eventually comprehend everything there is to know about the universe, then you can make those claims. But I believe that we will never know everything there is to know about the universe around us, because we are mentally incapable. Science has nothing to say about religion, because science is a way for our brains to try to explain the world around us. Religion/faith is all about the step after that.

    Therefore, it is not a question of 'possibility' to determine if there is a God or not. He either is (and we can't begin to grasp what this God is, it goes beyond our deductive skills), or he is not. That's a question of faith, it's a choice you make. Do you believe it or not? I personally do, you might not, but please don't come with arguments that science will prove you right. I won't use science to prove you wrong either, promise.
  • by javaxman ( 705658 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:42PM (#11265872) Journal

    If you RTFA, the most common response seems to be "that you exist" or "that people other than myself exist", or "that people other than myself have conciousness", something along those lines.

    Not surprisingly, most folks comming up with this are psychologists, but some of the physicists hit on that one as well, which I found interesting.

  • Re:First Post. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the quick brown fox ( 681969 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:42PM (#11265878)
    (he|they) must be pretty damn cruel

    Not necessarily, depending on whether there is an afterlife and what determines your fate therein. That's even assuming that the earthquake wasn't actually a good outcome out of all the possible outcomes; for example, what if the earthquake released tectonic pressure that otherwise would've built up and killed millions instead of hundreds of thousands?

    I for one think the "If an omnipotent, loving God exists, why does he let bad things happen?" line of argument is a red herring. It's impossible for us to understand the actions of a being with an infinite perspective, if one exists--or to look at it another way, you can always argue the other side, no matter how disastrous and cruel the world might seem to be.

  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:45PM (#11265943)
    You are extremely confused.

    "Try giving a straight (correct) answer to the question, "Is light a Partical(sic) or a Wave""

    The answer is 'mu'. It doesn't mean the universe is inconsistent. We haven't yet found a single inconsistency of the universe. Only that our theories are wrong and need to be revised.

    And, no, material isn't spewed out at the speed of light from a black hole (at least, no creditable scientist would say so).

    Again, 'the laws of physics break down at the speed of light'. This isn't right or wrong, it's just a nonsense sentence. It's like saying 'can God create a rock that he cannot lift?'

  • Re:Redundancy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:50PM (#11266022) Homepage
    Even in Math, proof involves an agreed upon set of axioms

    Amen. Even the learned writer of the US declaration of Independence fell back upon, "We hold these truths to be self-evident". Everybody has to start somewhere, and the pseudo-scientific religion bashing people who poo-poo faith are as grating as the bible-thumpers.

  • by khelek ( 560004 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:50PM (#11266023)
    I believe in the death of Jesus on the Cross for our sins and I believe He was resurrected on the third day. I believe that a belief in that is the only way to Heaven, and more importantly, a real relationship with God.

    I believe that while other religions focus on what man has to do to bring themselves to God, Christianity is the only Way, in that it shows what God did to bring us back to Him.

    I believe that there is such a thing as absolute morals, and what God said 4000 years ago is still applicable today.

    No, I can't prove it. That's why it's faith, and that's why Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Having said that, Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ [] makes very convincing arguments.

  • Re:homosexuality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clickster ( 669168 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:51PM (#11266032)
    As opposed to those adulterous heterosexuals who fornicate all day long and have children out of wedlock only to beat and otherwise abuse them. See, I can corner a small part of a population and project their faults onto the population as a whole. Does being straight make us the way I've described? No. Does being gay mean you spread disease? No. Can everything mentioned in both your post and mine be done by gays AND straights? Yes. Am I beginning to talk in questions like Donald Rumsfeld? Well, you post on Slashdot with the comments you have, not necessarily the comments you want.
  • Re:I believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ifwm ( 687373 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:51PM (#11266033) Journal
    "Just because science CAN explain something doesn't mean that it WASN'T God".

    That's what Occam's Razor is for. As in the simplest explanation that fits the evidence is usually best (paraphrase). God, being unprovable, will rarely (if ever) fit these criteria.
  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:51PM (#11266038)
    It has to be.
  • by cniebla ( 158677 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:57PM (#11266149) Homepage
    Reading the article, only one of the answers uses correctly Can't, the others must use Could. Let me explain it: you can make your life around something you believe in, and you could some day probe it (or expect someone else probe it). When you live your life by believing on something you can't probe, you're wasting it. Thus the diference between could and can't take 2 different worlds apart: those who believe and could someday probe it (or probe it wrong, for instance), and those who believe and are aware that they can't probe (or deny), but live confortably with that. There's a third kind of people: those who can't tell the difference between could and can't.
  • by rossifer ( 581396 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:58PM (#11266173) Journal
    To be a little more constructive than the parent:

    I believe, though I can't prove, that the universe presented to me by my senses is not an artifact of my own existence but exists separately from me, is consistent and will remain consistent after I am dead. (i.e. the universe isn't a figment of my imagination).

    I believe, though I can't prove, that other entities that resemble me in appearance and behavior (people) have the same kind of agency and observer status as myself and therefore have value similar in kind to myself. (i.e. contrary to the assertion of the psychopath, I believe other people really are people).

    Once you accept those predicates as lemmas (and variations, like having empathy for the pain of animals, or using tools to enhance your senses), a great number of things become "very likely". However, we don't need to "prove" any of it, because there's very little value to "proven" once you have "really, really likely". All we need is enough consistency to make predictions reliable and you can live a full and happy life in this world. Most/all of the people I've observed actually demanding proof for things are those behaving defensively in a "faith-based knowledge vs. reason-based knowledge" discussion.

    Yes, I am an athiest. No, I'm not hostile to Christianity or Christians: I just stopped accepting that there was a need for God and lost interest (except as a hobby of studying myth in literature and culture).

  • Re:I believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ahodgson ( 74077 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:02PM (#11266235)
    Sure, God wanted us to be intelligent, but took 3 billion years of fucking around to get to it.

    Right ....

    ID is an escape hatch for those who cannot deny the obviousness of evolution but don't want to give up their need to belief in God and, ergo, an afterlife.
  • by lukesl ( 555535 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:02PM (#11266240)
    I went to both med school and grad school (in neurophysiology), and I would say that you're wrong about one thing: medical doctors, in general, do NOT have "scientific minds." The recent embrace of so-called "evidence-based medicine" by the medical community is a perfect example of this. If not evidence, what were they using before? The answer: convention/dogma/judgment or whatever you want to call it.
  • by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:02PM (#11266244) Homepage Journal
    What has striken me most the last few years, is the arrogance ... that Science will Have All The Answers. Eventually we will comprehend everything

    Here's the thing: no other method comes anywhere close to the scientific one for generating real knowledge about the observable universe. Science keeps on generating better understanding, so either the universe is infinitely complex, in which case we'll never stop generting better science; or we'll eventually run out of steam due to our admittedly tiny minds - I doubt this one since we already so most of our science using mind-tools like oh, books, computers, etc to help us understand it; or we will eventually know it all. In a loose sense of "know". Much of the world doesn't know the venerable physics of Einstein and Heisenberg very well; and even more sadly, many deny the even more venerable biology of Darwin.

    You often hear people come with arguments like 'but God can't exist' or 'we don't need God to explain the universe'. Sure, if you think that man can eventually comprehend everything there is to know about the universe, then you can make those claims.

    So either we can know all, or we need God to explain it? false dichotomy.

    Religion/faith is all about the step after that.

    A totally meaningless sentence.

    I personally do ... have faith that there is a God (paraphrase).

    What testable predictions about the observable universe result from this assumption? If there are none, you must entertain the posiblity that your statement has no meaning.
  • Re:WMD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:06PM (#11266293) Journal
    I believe that there are Weapons of mass Destruction in Iraq- G.W. Bush

    There *are* WMD in Iraq. They are called "Pissed Sunnis", and they have proven quite effective against conventional forces.
  • Hillary in '08 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BrK ( 39585 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:07PM (#11266309) Homepage
    I believe that John Kerry's political campaign was an experiment to see just how much Americans would tolerate in terms of an ill-prepped candidate as a dry run for Hillary's '08 presidential bid.
  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:07PM (#11266310)
    I have mod points today but there isn't an entry for "totally nuts"! There's not a single item on your list that I believe; you even managed to undermine alien life with the odd proviso that it will be "acorporeal".

    Well, if it makes you happy, I guess.


  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:07PM (#11266315)
    Regretfully, the number 7% includes opinions of non-scientists that are allowed in the National Academy of Sciences, namely mathematicians.

    Mathematics is the first science to get it right. When your precious "scientists" were making up goofy cosmological models to account for idiotic presuppositions, it was the mathematicians that set them straight. At the beginning of the modern era, all real scientists were first and foremost mathematicians. Tomorrow, we may find out your most precious "science" was fraudulantly doctored, but 1 plus 1 will always equal 2. Period.

    The above quote, by the way, shows you know absolutely nothing, nada, zip, zilch about mathematics or science. Anyone who has taken high school chemistry ought to know better.
  • Re:That's easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:11PM (#11266397)

    Orgasmic vaginal contractions are rather easy to feel. Even if you can't feel it when you're doing the deed with your wang, you should be able to feel it if you're using your fingers or your tongue.

    (Wait. I'm on Slashdot. 99% of geeks here have never gotten that far.)

    Many women become hyper-sensitive to clitoral stimulation immediately prior and after orgasm. Meaning that the intensity is not comfortable, or even painful.

    If she's enjoying clitoral stimulation and then stops enjoying it very suddenly and urgently, you can be pretty sure she had an orgasm.

    If you guys can't grasp this, then seriously, turn off the computer, put away the porn, and go find a girlfriend. Seriously.
  • by nattt ( 568106 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:16PM (#11266472)
    Just because media science promulgates arrogance, does not mean that science is arrogant. Any scientist that says "this is the right answer, the total truth, forever" is arrogant - but they don't say that. Your media scientist is a straw man.

    The true answer is always "I don't know" - but the person who has studied the available evidence will say - "the available evidence points to this or that conlusion". It does not mean that that conclusion is true, only that the available evidence points to it. When more evidence becomes available, the pointed at conclusion will change to more accurately reflect the available evidence.

    So it's not a question of "possibility" but one of evidence. Faith is what you believe in when you don't have evidence. There's ample evidence out there to make a decision if you look at it without being brainwashed from birth.

    What a rational person can do is look at the known facts about the christian god and decide from the available evidence if they make sense given your own personal experiences of the world. If you have a vision and god speaks to you, then there is no way for me to dissuade you from a belief in god. However, your evidence is personal evidence, and it's based upon personal experience, and is in no way valid for convincing me that there is such a god.

    Even if you do have a personal revelation and believe in a god, how does that help you know the attributes of god. Unless god tells you he's omnipotent, do you know that he is. Perhaps your revealed god says "I'm the god of the christian bible, and everything in it is true", and there you are, you can now be a truely rational christian. Hopefully you'll ask your god to do a bit of proof for you, to give you some more tangible evidence. Why would god make you a rational being if the one thing he asks you not to be rational about is his own existence?

    Most people on this planet who believe in a god do so for no other reason that that's what they were told when they were little. They're not just told that there is a god, but which particular brand they're to follow. That's not rational, that's just hearsay evidence and means nothing.

    That's why the rational course of action is to be agnostic until proven otherwise. If you've been proven otherwise, then that's fine - I'll respect that, but don't go thinking that your evidence has any meaning for me because the only evidence that matters in this issue is very personal. Everyone has to discover their own answers to these questions and make them fit with how their own brains work. That why religion in it's current "one size fits all" mentality doesn't work, for even in a specific branch of a specific religion there are vast differences in the details of belief, and that's because the religion was not personally revealed to each and every member, but passed on from one person to another in such a way that does not account for the differences in each individual.
  • Re:Logic works? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:17PM (#11266491)
    According to Goedels' Incompleteness Theoreom, every logic must have at least some holes
  • by TGK ( 262438 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:18PM (#11266505) Homepage Journal
    Because once you accecpt that those entities are similar to yourself you must realise that they, like yourself, have the capability to manipulate their environment.

    Because you are part of their environment, they have some power over you and you some power over them. Since they seem to exhibit a sort of herd mentality, it would seem foolish to antagonize them as the herd itself is significantly stronger than the sum of its parts.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:22PM (#11266570) Journal
    > Why is this modded insightful? It's a complete misinterpretation of the Establisment Clause. There
    > is no "prohibitions against teachign{sic} religion in public schools". The only thing the Establisment
    > Clause prohibits is a state sponsored religion.

    Teachign a religious belief, even a cleverly hidden one like ID, in a public school is state-sponsored religion. Parents are perfectly welcome to put their children in private schools if they wish them to be taught about the Intelligent Designer.

    ID evolved because openly teaching Biblical Literalism to public school students was pretty much squashed a long time ago. It's the floorboards of the wedge strategy (along with the premise that somewhere somehow something is wrong with evolution). Watch an ID advocate. In mixed company they will refuse to say anything about the alleged Designer, while among like-minded inviduals, this Designer's secret identity is quite obviously the Judeao-Christian god.

    In other words, ID is nothing more than a lawyer's version of Biblical Creationism, specially designed to get around that little ol' problem of pushing Biblical Literalism upon kiddies in public schools.
  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <>> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:25PM (#11266620) Homepage Journal
    You bet! Someday people will realize that the Bible is a book of THEOLOGY and not a book of SCIENCE.

    How funny. The Pope [] just stated that a few years ago. And in the catechism we learn that the Bible should not be interpreted literally (as do *cough* Jehovah's Witnesses *cough* 144,000 * cough cough* and others)

    As a side note, Galileo wasn't banned for his astronomy findings, but because of misinterpretations by particular memebers of the clergy [].

    From the wikipedia:

    In 1992, 359 years after the Galileo trial, Pope John Paul II issued an apology, lifting the edict of Inquisition against Galileo: "Galileo sensed in his scientific research the presence of the Creator who, stirring in the depths of his spirit, stimulated him, anticipating and assisting his intuitions." After the release of this report, the Pope said further that "... Galileo, a sincere believer, showed himself to be more perceptive in this regard the relation of scientific and Biblical truths than the theologians who opposed him."

    It's ironic... how protestants, who accused the Catholic Church of promoting ignorance, ended up being more ignorant and intolerant themselves.
  • Re:WMD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geomon ( 78680 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:27PM (#11266652) Homepage Journal
    This has been going on forever.

    How true, but this applies to everyone equally.

    For every petty dictator we supported in the Cold War, there was a petty dictator supported by the Soviet Union as well. I noticed that East Germany was absent from your listing. There are many more in that listing as well, I assure you.

    And what about colonies? Every major power in Europe was just itching to get into Africa in a big way. Do you think they brought the natives foreign aid?

    How do you rate the French involvement in Algeria or the Ivory Coast?

    To contantly jump on the US for having made poor decisions as a nation undermines the great sacrifice that American citizens have made in keeping major conflict from arriving at everyone's doors world-wide. You and I can criticize the decisions as ill-informed or malevolent, but please don't forget that the US doesn't make them without perceived threats from abroad.

    There are still Americans who believe in John Adams proclaimation [] that "Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy."

    Living up to that proclaimation has been difficult and has meant the sacrifice of a nations treasure.
  • by nattt ( 568106 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:31PM (#11266713)
    So religious believers have strength in numbers the world over - what does that mean?? The number of people believing in something has no bearing on it's validity either way.

    The main issue with religious believers is that their belief is not rational and in many cases borders on madness. Unlike other bad habits, they feel it necessary to perform their bad habit in public and group together with others.

    You as an individual can believe whatever you want, and I'll defend your right to believe whatever you want, but as soon as you try to organise together to oppress.... I'm not happy at all. I don't know you, you're probably not one of those oppressive types - after all that type of religious person doesn't read /. for instance, and cannot use a computer, but by even allowing yourself to be associated with them by saying you're a christian, you're lending validity to their oppression. Now I'm certain you're not a christian - you have your own beliefs, and as no two christians can agree on exactly what to believe anyway, I'd be much happier if you described yourself as a theist and leave it at that.
  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:46PM (#11266950) Journal
    > As much as I dislike religious creationism, the religion ban on schools is anticonstitutional (1st
    > ammendment anyone?) and unfair. Let people pray in schools, those who feel offended can leave the
    > classroom with no penalties.

    This isn't about praying in schools. If a student or group of students wish to do so, then their rights are protected. However, if school staff require that students take part in prayers, then they are violating the Constitution.

    Teaching Creationism in a public school science class is clearly pushing a specific religious view, which isn't even shared by many religious people. The issue of students being allowed to pray is not the same as the issue of students being taught a religious belief (even if carefully cloaked in seemingly neutral language) by an employee of the state (namely, a public school teacher).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:53PM (#11267036)
    I look at ourselves and our assortment of life here on earth as survival of the species.

    And I see religions as survival of philosophies.

    Religions, like a good computer virus, have hooks in them to insure their propagation within people. Religion will stress caring for each other, and some sort of promise of redemption for those who obey. The basic premise is that in order for a religion to survive, it must promise the parent anticipated rewards in some sort of afterlife in exchange for propagating the religion to their offspring.

    Although I am a fervent believer in a supreme power ( mostly convinced by the complexity of life versus the calculated time the universe could have existed since the big bang ), I am not convinced our religions have it right.

    FWIW, I was raised Southern Baptist, but the experiences of receiving teasing followed by "Christian Discipline" so the one administering the teasing would not have to answer painful questions, taught me not to trust anything Man says with a ten foot pole.

    I am accused of lack of "faith", but my own experience is as if I went into a hardware store and had to choose between two ladders... one branded "Church", and one branded "Science". Upon stepping on the ladders, the one branded "Church" dropped rungs on me and laughed at me, then painfully disciplined me when I asked why. The one branded "Science" held its rated weight, and would explain how it arrived at its ratings when asked.

    Will a fellow customer in the store making all sorts of steeple-gestures with his hands, bobbling his head, and exhorting "faith" have much influence over my personal experiences with the ladders? In my case, I just consider him as one who hasn't had the same experiences with the ladders as I have.

    I can say I "believe" anything just to make the heads around me happy. But when it comes to something I have absolute faith in, it takes more than hands held steeple-fashion below bobbling heads to convince me. It takes proof. Faith, to me, just makes one vulnerable to teasing and being misled. No amount of "discipline" can change that, conversely, only thing "discipline" did was convince me the Church People would get extremely violent if confronted. How can a child seek counsel with those who will administer harsh physical pain for giving an "incorrect" answer? One is just strongly motivated to give the bobble-head the answer he wants, and keep the distrust of those kind of people.

    I know I picked on my own religion of upbringing, but that only illustrates to me of how other religions try to bring up their offspring, with distrust and intent to destroy anything which is not that religion.

    From that observation, I feel religions are much like computer viruses, each programmed to try to take over the machine and exclude the others - often much to the chagrin of those who actually designed the machine!

    I believe we were created by some sort of Creator ( well, wasn't everything created by something? ), but I have no idea of what that Creator is. I consider Science to be the study of our creation, hence the ultimate study of our Creator.

    I do not know how accurately our "holy books" reflect our Creator, as they were written by Man. I can consider them as a record of what happened a long time ago, and musings by quite intelligent philosophers.

    Trying to tell me to have "faith of things unseen" is to me the same as asking me to be gullible to false prophets.

    To have absolute belief, I need proof. God's proof. Not Man's. I see Laws of Physics as God's law. Man's words read like the trickery of marketing pamphlets.

    Example: The Ten Commandments. We are told nothing is impossible for God, and he readily changes one element to another, or creates matter where none existed - like changing water into wine, or feeding multitudes with a couple of fish. So Moses ( reared in Egypt under Pharoah having the best teachers in stonecutting ) goes up into the mou

  • Re:I believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geomon ( 78680 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:53PM (#11267040) Homepage Journal
    You are reaching with that conclusion. *No* physical evidence. How about the Big Bang?

    How about it? Is this just another appeal for "God in the Gaps"?

    Bias is on both sides.

    How so? You have irrefutable evidence of god's existence? Something testable and falsifiable?

    I have an open mind. Fill it with something other than speculation and you will be able to convince me.

    "Atheists want nothing more than to live their lives without God so they can live a life without any ultimate consequences."

    Atheists (and I can only speak for the ones I know) want nothing more than to be left alone by religious people. They don't belive in god, so the threat of any "ultimate consequences" is moot.

    We chose to be moral and good because it suits us, not because we fear for our fate after we die.

  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:56PM (#11267076) Journal
    > I have never believed in creationism that I know of; I have always believed in evolution; I have
    > always believed in God. How does believing that God is responsible for evolution subvert the
    > separation of Church and state?
    > It's not like teachers need to teach the root cause of evolution, just how it works.

    Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by "root cause", but it seems to me one of the big problems with science education in general is that it isn't properly explained that science isn't anti or pro-God, it's necessarily agnostic on that particular topic.

    Evolution isn't an atheistic dogma, it serves an atheist no better than it serves a theist. It, like all scientific theories, has nothing to say on the existence or non-existence of God. Of course, certain religious beliefs are ultimately falsified or rendered useless by science. No one seriously thinks that Zeus sends down thunderbolts, or that Poseidon makes storms at sea. The same goes with Biblical Literalism, particularly in reference to Genesis.

    Unfortunately for some branches of Christianity, a form of Bibliolatry has taken root. This seems to have created a litmus test in certain denominations, where either the person believes that everything in the Bible is literally true (except for the bits that are obviously metaphorical, heh heh heh) or they are not a true Christian.

    In the older, pre-Reformation traditition (aka. Roman Catholicism) there is no requirement that the Bible must be read as a literal historical and scientific document. In fact, Biblical Literalism is a relatively young idea, not a deep-rooted one.

    It's neither here nor there. A teacher in a public school should not be foisting a religious belief on his or her students. Even putting Constitutional issues aside, one would hope that teachers, and the educational system in general, would not teach blatantly incorrect things.
  • Science can not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:00PM (#11267118) Homepage Journal
    prove God exists.
    Science can not disprove God.
    therefore, Science can only help explain what he created, and how it works.

  • by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <.theaetetus.slashdot. .at.> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:04PM (#11267167) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, no, science does not say "science will have ALL the answers" nor "someday we will comprehend everything." Science merely says "this is what we know now, and here are our questions."

    It's religion that says "we have ALL the answers." That's the arrogance - claiming to have all the answers without proof. Where did the Universe come from? Science says, "we have this theory that seems to lead to what we see now, but if something changes, we'll change our model." Religion says, "We know! God created it! No debate necessary, no evidence needed more than this here book!"


  • Re:I believe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rheingold ( 2741 ) <wcooley@nak[ ] ['eda' in gap]> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:09PM (#11267265) Homepage

    That is the point of the whole story: Belief on what can not be proven. Your question is sort of pointless because you can't prove it either way. You didn't RTFA or even the title of the story, did you?

    It sounds like the title is about all you've read. The site and its articles aren't about things believed willy-nilly; the articles are experts describing their hunches based on their years of experience and synthesizing information outside their fields. It is not about experts having beliefs without cause--it's about experts having beliefs with cause but not rigorously proven (yet anyway). That is a critical distinction to make. To quote []:

    This is an alternative path. It may be that it's okay not to be certain, but to have a hunch, and to perceive on that basis. There is also evidence here that the scientists are thinking beyond their individual fields. Yes, they are engaged in the science of their own areas of research, but more importantly they are also thinking deeply about creating new understandings about the limits of science, of seeing science not just as a question of knowing things, but as a means of tuning into the deeper questions of who we are and how we know.

    These questions are not about making vague statments and leaving them at belief; they are about stimulating thought and discussion--not about simply accepting a belief and rejecting discussion based on unprovability.

    Aparently that has already been answered by the partent with a resounding Yes!.

    That was a mistake on my part. The quesion was meant to be: Have you ever experienced a universe that was not designed?

    No, not really. Design is one of those things that indicates intelligent origin, that's all. You can call a DVD player "designed", but yet you can't point to a naturally-occurring DVD player growing wild on some jungle or being mined from the earth.

    You've just restated what I said: Design implies an abstraction (a function of intelligence) of a purpose from nature and then creation (by man) of something for that purpose.

  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Elracim ( 660617 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:09PM (#11267280)
    I agree, God and science are two separate things. There are some things that science can never explain; the things that are beyond the scope of science are the domain of faith. Science will never tell us how reality came to be, or if has always been here, why? Things that are unknowable are either ignored, or taken as, you guessed it, matters of faith.

    Slightly O.T. But as far as I.D. goes, I can't think of a more absurd thing to argue about... If there is a "God", and he insists on designing things, then he could have created the earth, everyone in it and their memories 10 minutes ago, being omnipotent and all. Doesn't seem really important...
  • Re:Someday (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xSauronx ( 608805 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:19PM (#11267468)
    i believe, though i can't prove it...that your argument was a waste of time, and he won't give a damn about the evidence
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:20PM (#11267491) Homepage Journal
    Go back and track the story. The shells were over 20 years old and the chemicals mainly degraded. And guess who the supplier of them to Iraq was...
    Those may or may not be true, but that's irrelevant to the question of whether WMDs were found in Iraq.
    Framed another way, the original poster basically said that no WMDs were found in Iraq. That statement is provably not true, to the best of my knowledge.

    As a boolean value, that was !true:

    Weapons of Mass Destruction.
    Unusable relics with degraded payloads are still technically chemical weapons, but they are not capable of Mass Destruction.

  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Venner ( 59051 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:28PM (#11267648)
    >>Of course, Occam's Razor says "most likely" or "usually" as you put it. The significance is that the simplest explanation isn't ALWAYS the correct one.

    Exactly. Weird things happen that are absolutely unexpected and most certainly not the 'easy answer'.

    I have a book around here somewhere that has an article about a man who was stabbed and killed at a baseball game in the 30s. The simple explanation? Probably that someone didn't like him very much, right?

    The unlikely truth of the matter was that the man sitting on his right was passing an open pocket knife to the man on his left and a foul ball struck the hand with the knife, driving the point into his throat. That's something about which - even if you were there - you'd be saying, "What the hell?! Can't be."

    Even the fact that someone can spend a dollar on a lottery ticket and win millions of dollars is pretty crazy. Some people call it "a tax on people who can't do statistics", but I personally know someone who is $10,000 richer for a $1 ticket. It defies the odds.

    Ocham's Razor.
    Explain: He has millions of dollars.
    Simple explanations: He inherited it. He stole it. He earned it with his business.
    Not simple: He managed to beat the 1 in 135,145,920 odds and won the Mega Millions jackpot. (Real odds)

  • Re:Someday (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AnonymousKev ( 754127 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:06PM (#11268285)
    >Interestingly, he didn't make claims to deity, it was Paul that did most of that for him

    Certainly you're entitled to your views on whether or not Jesus is the Christ, but you shouldn't misrepresent facts. Jesus made several claims to divinity -- both direct and oblique.

    Matthew 11:27: Jesus claims an exclusive Father/Son relationship with God.

    Matthew 26:63-64: High Priest asks Jesus if he is the Christ (aka the Messiah) and Jesus answers that he is.

    John 8:58: Jesus states "Before Abraham was born, I am" The term "I am" is considered by Jews to be the name of God. (When God appeared to Moses as the burning bush, Moses asked His name. The response was "I am".)

    John 14:6: "No one comes to the Father, except through me." -- while not a direct claim of deity, it's a very weighty statement of Jesus as Savior of the world. This is one of Jesus' statements that prevents most Christians from jumping on the "all religions are equal" bandwagon.

    For more detail, check out Josh McDowell's Evidence which Demands a Verdict -- specificially, the chapter "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?".

  • by ifwm ( 687373 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:36PM (#11268770) Journal
    You (conveniently) left out the EVIDENCE part. God loses.
  • Re:Someday (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jpflip ( 670957 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:36PM (#11268771)
    I'm not quite clear on what you mean by "the other aspect of this matter is gravity which is the negative quantity..." etc. Inflation isn't all that useful for telling us why there is matter to begin with. Quantum field theory tells us that there should be matter and antimatter springing into existence all the time in the hot early universe of the big bang model - the problem is why the matter and antimatter don't appear in equal amounts and annihilate each other. There are theories which can explain this, but they aren't aspects of inflation per se.

    What inflation is good for is telling us why the universe is the way we see it today - ridiculously homogenous on large scales (scales so large that light doesn't seem to have had time to cross the intervening distance) but not perfectly homogeneous (otherwise we wouldn't have any lumpy things like galaxies or planets). The quantum fluctuations you describe naturally give rise to the slight "lumps" in the universe, while the rapid early expansion of inflation smooths out any big inhomogeneities in the early universe. This all turns out to work out really well and solve a lot of problems.

    Of course, no one knows exactly what caused this rapid expansion, but there are lots of good models that can do the job (which just don't have enough evidence to decide which particular one might be right). One model (eternal inflation) suggests that an eternal universe (the details of any initial Big Bang don't matter) would have occasional quantum fluctuations which expand outward in just the manner our universe seems to. The Big Bang could, in some sense, be just a local phenomena that happens every now and then in the bigger "universe".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:46PM (#11268913)
    The principle of 'There is no God' is actually foundational to atheism. 'Might makes right' doesn't follow, logically (on premises everyone must accept if they believe there is no God) or naturally (by which I mean according to this and other things most people believe, like there are other people and the sky is blue).

    Maybe you believe that if someone does not believe morality is dictated by the sanction of a superbeing, then they must accept 'might makes right.' This seems far from true to me. Suppose one doesn't believe anything makes right. Maybe one believes that anything that maximizes taco production is right. Or one might accept any number of moral frameworks (deontological, utilitarian, whatever.) Where is the logical inconsistency?
  • Re:Someday (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AliasF97 ( 749177 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:54PM (#11269058)
    Your points are well-taken, but let's be fair. The Big Bang is a theory. I probably don't know nearly as much about it as you do, based on your post, but as we learn more about space, our take on what's out there beyond our atmosphere is changing...if not necessarily the view on the Big Bang. We can't even say if there is or was life on the planet right next door, but we are so bold as to say, "This is how the Universe started and I can prove it"? There are objects out there that we cannot even define, let alone discern the origin. This is about beliefs without proof (kind of like being a Philosophy major), so maybe we can be a little fast and loose with the hard facts. But, in relation to the Universe, it seems to me that we are looking at one very small part of a whole and making our best guess based on what we see. But our best guesses have been notoriously known for being questioned (with the questioners almost always being persecuted) and then corrected.
  • by rossifer ( 581396 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @06:03PM (#11269171) Journal
    Right -- your personal opinons. But there is no a priori reason, other than personal opinion, why your opinions should matter to anyone else.

    Hm. I believe that we are discussing at cross purposes here. If you happen to choose the same goals I do, then certain kinds of behaviors become moral to you and we can get into the details of that. If you don't choose the same goals I do, or if you choose goals that are antithetical to the goals I've chosen for myself, then we will have little to no common ground and almost nothing to talk about.

    Too, those in your group who agree with your personal opinions would be free to love you, regardless of what the masses think

    Trust/friendship amongst thieves, eh? That's an interesting assertion, but I find that assholes don't like assholes any more than nice people do. If you've got a reputation for manipulative behavior, even people who agree that manipulative behavior is ok won't trust you. You have to have a reputation for trustworthy behavior, which doesn't fit with being a manipulative person.

    In any case, the principle of "might makes right" is foundational to atheism.

    This assertion is highly astonishing and would need a lot more substantiation before it could be accepted. It seems to presuppose that atheists lack the ability to determine morality (which is an unsupportable assertion).

    My first response is that your statement seems true for a sociopath (who is also likely an atheist), but I don't see why any other athiests would agree with you.

    Fortunately, atheists either don't realize this, don't want to accept this (after all, it intuitively seems wrong), or act inconsistently with their beliefs.

    If it intuitively seems wrong, you might want to check some of your "facts". I believe that your conclusion is insupportable because it depends on an unsupported presumption.

  • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @06:13PM (#11269289) Homepage
    but i know there has to be something out there, things are just to "perfect" to randomly appear.
    Things are "perfect" because we evolved to survive in the environment we found ourselves in. We developed here, on earth, and here on earth things are close to perfect.

    look at how the earth balances itself out, no matter what we do to mess it up
    Like global warming? The extinction of thousands of species? Mercury poisening in the water supply ? Deforestation?

    The earth is big enough that it took a very large population of humans, something that is a very recent condition, in order to have a noticeble effect. But we are now effecting the earth in ways that are causing serious problems.

    look at mathmatics, virtually perfect
    Guess what? Mathmatics is a human invention. Nature neither knows nor cares what 1+1 is, nor does it care that you can't divide by zero. Have you ever tried long division in Roman numerals? What about in cultures where their numbers are 1, 2, 3, "many"?

    our bodies are amazing pieces of machinery
    Sure. Our feet are hands that barely do their job. Don't beleive me? Ask Dr. Scholl. The octopus has better eyes than we do. We gain weight at the drop of a hat but it takes an amazing amount of work to lose it again. Childbirth puts the mother's life at risk, a feature pretty unique to human beings.

    We are beauitiful and wonderous things (as are all other living things), but we are not intellegently designed by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Re:Someday (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johnnyb ( 4816 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @06:27PM (#11269515) Homepage
    I haven't read the book, but you think that the Josephus references are just made up?

    Remember that we actually have copies of the book of John dating back to 120AD, which is _really_ close to the time it was written. Likewise, the dates of the people who lived who quoted the New Testament also establishes an early date.

    By reading the reviews of the books, it seems like the author is trying to disprove the basics of Christianity by arguing in agreement with one of its main tenets (that God is readying all people to know Christ). For more information about this, you should check out Eternity in their Hearts [].
  • by rossifer ( 581396 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @06:35PM (#11269637) Journal
    1) All morality is nothing more than personal opinion (since there is nothing outside of man (or God) which says 'ought' instead of 'is'.

    Your problem is faulty in this statement. It does not agree with reality. Some goals are objectively better than other goals. Some behaviors are objectively better than other behaviors. Not to fall into the simplistic analysis of Ayn Rand and the objectivists, but morality follows from this reality of motivated action.

    Correct the problematic statement and see if your proof still makes sense. I submit that it does not.

    Trust/friendship amongst thieves, eh?

    Not necessarily. Instead of 'thieves', think of an elite group.

    I disproved your assertion that people with common morality can have the same beneficial outcome, no matter what the chosen morality. I used a counterexample taken from the real world. Thieves tend to discount the value of long-term goals, which makes them less likely to be trusted/liked/loved by people they are honest with, thus a thief's morality is inferior to a morality that allows/supports/develops long-term positive relationships.

    Morality is not just a matter of opinion (just shown). You are correct that in a world where there was no significant advantage to a particular set of behaviors (morality), might would make right. Luckily for all of us, that world is not reality.

  • by Raunch ( 191457 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @07:06PM (#11269980) Homepage
    > What's simpler:
    > "The electron lies in a potential well"
    > Or:
    > "God did it."

    The idea is simplest answer, not shortest answer.
  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iceborer ( 684929 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @07:10PM (#11270026)
    All of this nonsense about atheism being its own religion and the inability to describe negative atheism to theists is why I've taken to describing myself as an "Apathetic" -- I don't care if there is or is not a God. It pisses people off while they're trying to convert me, but maybe that's an unanticipated benefit.

    I happen to be married to a devoutly Christian woman. I respect her faith, encourage it, and think it serves her well. I'm just not interested. I don't believe that there is a God. If he sat down next to me and said hello, I'd say, "Dude! My bad," and be back about my business. I think its hard for theists to accept the fact that we atheists can live perfectly moral lives without the Carrot (Heaven) or the Stick (New Jersey).
  • by Raunch ( 191457 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @07:22PM (#11270152) Homepage
    If you want to get all nitpickie, then I don't think that "traces" of anything would be in the running to be titled with "mass". Beyond that, degraded sarin that was no longer harmful would be perhaps not best classified as a "weapon".

    If I put .000005 grams of cyanide in your potatoes, is it posion? Perhaps it's just garnish.
  • Re:I believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by benna ( 614220 ) <mimenarrator@g m a i l .com> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @07:52PM (#11270462) Journal
    Physicists usually use the word God metaphorically. There are some exceptions, but not many. Your argument that the world is just too good to have come out of evolution shows your lack of understanding of the concept, not any evidence for the existence of a designer. See "The Evolutionary Origin of Complex Features" [] in the journal Nature for some good experimental evidence to the contrary. But really, such research shouldn't be necessary, as it is quite obvious that evolution has no limit in the complexity it can produce given enough time. And there has been enough time. The universe has existed for at least 11 billion years.
  • Re:WMD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @08:05PM (#11270577) Journal
    US Bashers are hypocrites?

    I guess they are, after all, nobody really wants to know the real truth, they just want whatever truth they get fed through the media or through their religious leader or through their president (often then filtered through the media too!)

    Reminds me of the Republican ads being shown before the election, talking about how the Republicans were the "value" party, and listing all sorts of values they claimed to hold (gee, I'm glad you're courageous!). I guess those "liberal" tv channels must have cut the ad short, since not once was "truth", "justice", or "honesty" listed.

    So, if The Truth is bashing the US, then maybe its deserved. US spoonfed Saddam (who wouldn't have been able to hold Iraq together himself) to have a secular friend against Iran taking over the region. Once Saddam was armed, he started misbehaving and killing people but the US chose to "overlook" that small flaw in his character for the continued security against Iran, until finally he invaded another country. Then Bush Sr. beat him down just enough to teach him that if he wants to slaughter people, he can do it within his own country.

    Later, we invade Iraq, kill a lot of people, discover halfway through that we had no plans for an exit, no plans for a democracy (are we even going to pull off the hastily arranged election this month?), no weapons of mass destruction (and members of the government knew this, but failed to communicate it to anyone who could do anything about it other than fire them from the CIA, even after weeks of hunting in Iraq) making this an elective war which means that we could have waited in order to properly equip troops, rather than "going to war with the army we have".

    I also find it highly amusing that you believe we are the sole source of freedom on this planet. I can see how people could say "we saved Europe" in WW2, but I'd like to hear how crushing Japan or Germany saved South Africa or Mexico. Not to mention that our own freedom was largely conferred to us with French support.

    I suppose though that what America giveth, it taketh away, as the Bush Administration did when it tried to imprison our own Citizens without charge or trial, until the Supreme Court schooled Bush on the bill of rights (Jose Padilla was "detained" in 2002, and finally has a trial scheduled for this month thanks to the SCOTUS decision, however he STILL has not been charged with a crime). Though maybe you're right about the source of freedom spiel, just last month Britain saw the light and their indefinite imprisonment law got busted too.
  • Re:Someday (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ObjetDart ( 700355 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @08:10PM (#11270633)
    As for me, I think it's strong evidence that God was behind the Big Bang.

    As for me, I think it's strong evidence that something is happening that we don't understand.

    Feel free to attribute anything we don't currently understand to "God", it's your right; humans have been doing it for thousands of years. Of course, thousands of years ago it was twinkling lights in the sky and occasional crop failures; today it's the big bang.

    Personally, I'm perfectly comfortable accepting that that there are still many, many things about this universe that we cannot explain; furthermore, I'm confident that given enough time, we might even figure out the answers to some of those things. There will always be mysteries to keep us puzzled and searching for answers. In the meantime I don't need to imagine an all powerful mythical being to feel better about it.

  • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @08:11PM (#11270649) Journal
    Where's your sense of rhythm?

    Good lovemaking requires no accessories. Except maybe a towel. (Hitchhiker's Guide was right!)
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @08:53PM (#11271028)
    Born again is akin to a nervous breakdown IMO. Often they are trading the bottle for a bible.

    What percentage of the religous are the same religion as their parents? Is this startling coincidence or learned/enforced behavior?

    Talking to my friends growing up, most were forced to go to church. Sounds like brainwashing from a young age to me.

    Frankly it is amazing that many escape this cycle. Told from the time you can talk there is an all powerfull vengefull god and weekly attending mass brainwashing sessions.

    If we had a world without religion we also wouldn't have the term "Holy War" either, or inquistions, or crusades etc....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @08:57PM (#11271070)
    (corrected version)

    Intelligent Design Guy: Any change God falls within the remaining 95%?

    Atheist Scientist: Can't say for sure!

    Intelligent Design Guy: That means God *must* exist!

    Atheist Scientist: No way!

  • Re:Someday (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CaptainAvatar ( 113689 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @09:24PM (#11271292)
    There's no doubt that the standard big bang model doesn't work as well as it used to. But it's now merely a starting point. The most important features of the model - that it explains the microwave background, the recession of galaxies, and elemental abundances - are still good reasons for thinking that reality will turn out to have something very like a big bang, even if it is rather weirder (branes and suchlike). The big bang is here to stay - it's the standard, simplistic big bang model which is in trouble.

    PS There is no way I am going to read a book with "Akashic Field" in the title, leastways not without laughing.

  • OH COME ON!!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rmdyer ( 267137 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @10:15PM (#11271622)
    "This means the Big Bang was "tuned" to produce exactly this density. The odds of that happening by chance are estimated at 1 to 10^50."

    This kind of thinking is freshman 101 philosphy talking. You obviously have little grasp of the very large numbers, even less grasp of the infinite. This kind of talk leads even more stupid people into believing in miracles, and gods, and all sorts of magical mystery tour fluff.

    Experience thinkers go well beyond your primitive and immature logic. It is well known that in a universe of practically infinite time that all numbers less than infinity might as well be 1. So while I'm not a die hard believer in the big bang theory, whatever happened only had to happen once! And based on any kind of random chance, no tuning was neccessary. Better yet, in infinite time, not only does this theoretical universe come into existance, but it does so an infinte number of times. All that, and together with all the other random universe type probabilities.

    The question, and this has been pondered many times by advanced theologians, philosophers, and scientists, this universe the only logical possible universe that can exist? If this turns out to be true, then not only do gods get demoted to janitorial duty, but they don't even get paid. This is basically saying that any god would have no choice in the creation of a universe...there is only one possible one that could ever be created.

    This kind of thinking makes perfect sense when you go into deep analysis on how we are able to think and know truths. In our everyday lives we know things by definition. We made up those definitions based on sensory perception. Definitions need to be logically organized, otherwise the world is utterly incomprehensable. For example, the color of the sky can never be both black and white at the same time. We've created an intermediate word for that defined as "grey". Also, you cannot pick up a thing that is both square and round, or lift a thing that is both heavy and light. You would never say to a person "Go pickup that heavy box, it doesn't weigh much." Our entire experience of the universe is based on the languages of definition and logic. We see a "color". We define that "color". If the color changes, the only way to know that it did was to compare it to the originally defined color.

    If there is only one logically possible universe, then what is the requirement that it changes over time? Quite possibly so that it can work out all the permutations of what -is- possible. But that is not a "purpose". That is only "what it does". The next question that arises is...if the universe is working out all logically possible combinations over time (perhaps at the quantum level), then are the number of logically possible combinations infinite?

    Any beginning computer programmer knows that a memory with a finite number states cannot logically produce every number in existance. So if the universe has an infinite number of states, in a sea of inifinite time, is there an algorithm that would produce a series of logically possible states that occur once and only once...that cannot repeat? Even calculating PI will eventually produce a series of repetitive numbers that occur at ever decreasing frequency.

    Is there only one logically possible universe?

    For insight into this kind of thinking google on the "Bekenstein Bound" of quantum mechanics.

    Also read...

    "The Physics of Immortality", Frank J. Tipler


    "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle", John D. Barrow & Frank J. Tipler

    Note: I personally don't always agree with the nature of the material presented in the above books. Nevertheless I find the reading to be absolutely facinating.
  • by nattt ( 568106 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @10:56PM (#11271918)

    Most people believe what their parent's believe, right down tot he particular brand of religion.

    Most people in the USA are christian. If people actually thought about what to believe and tried to find a religious belief (assuming they're going to be religious) that fitted in with their own ideas, wouldn't there be a nice random distribution among populations and variations in families?

    And Atheists don't become born again - lapsed christians do! Atheists have an honest breakdown and just hit the bottle.
  • by ckedge ( 192996 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @02:07AM (#11273000) Journal

    You fools, there are only 10 to the 260th power combinations if you presume that there are no mechanisms that *reduce* the problem space and make 10 to the 250 power possibilities disappear.

    Look at it this way. See the ball I'm holding in my hand. It occupies X amount of physical space. There are 10 to the 1024th power other physical locations in the universe it could go to when I release it. But *mysteriously* it always ends up on the floor roughly below my hand.

    Wierd, eh?

  • Re:OH COME ON!!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cappy Red ( 576737 ) <miketoon@yahoo . c om> on Thursday January 06, 2005 @07:25AM (#11273886)
    Just poking about on one point...

    " this universe the only logical possible universe that can exist? If this turns out to be true, then not only do gods get demoted to janitorial duty, but they don't even get paid. This is basically saying that any god would have no choice in the creation of a universe...there is only one possible one that could ever be created."

    If one is "God," and has the powers and abilities generally stated to extend above and beyond those of the natural order, wouldn't one be able to change the rules? Wouldn't that mean that no matter how the rules say a Universe must behave within any particular Universe, that God would be able to supercede these by virtue of the fact that He is not bound to the rules?

    One of the big problems in all this is the variance in the definition of what God can do. Another is the extremely small sample of polled Universes.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?